Tornado-like storm strikes

By Country News

A ferocious storm that hit vast areas from Hill Plain across to Jerilderie whipped up cloud formations that looked like a tornado, causing fear among those in its path.

According to data from the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather station at Deniliquin Airport, wind gusts reached 83km/h in Deniliquin on December 9, sweeping dust up its heart to wash the town in a brown haze.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the wind speeds intensified as they moved past Deniliquin and headed towards Jerilderie.

At Sarah and Angus Macdonald’s property at Blighty, the winds picked up and tore apart a caravan, partially demolished a cottage, tumbled large hay bales, tossed centre pivot irrigators across the property and caused further damage.

It has also resulted in the destruction of about 300ha of barley crops.

‘‘We were hit pretty bad. All I can say is we’ll be cleaning up for a fair while,’’ Mr Macdonald said.

‘‘Just the number of trees everywhere is astonishing and we’ve had other things blown away, such as our caravan.

‘‘It’s really just amazing how much damage a storm can do.

‘‘It was hailing the size of golf balls; my back is now badly bruised from when I was trying to save one of our trucks.’’

In the Tuppal area, Cameron Tweed said the ‘‘30 minutes of pain’’ that was the storm cost him some of his livestock when it ripped through half of his Billabidgee property in Bullatale.

‘‘Of the 50 sheep I had in a feedlot, some were killed and I had to put down about 15 when a big gum blew over on top of it (the feedlot),’’ Mr Tweed said.

‘‘It’s just a big mess and I know a lot of our neighbours have been hit hard as well.’’

Christie and Andrew Gavel, who live at Warragoon, said they were lucky to escape serious damage but said it was a ‘‘scary’’ experience.

‘‘I was inside on the computer and Andrew banged on the door and told me to grab my camera and come out to the paddock,’’ Mrs Gavel said.

‘‘We raced out to the paddock behind the house but when the clouds really started to swell I said we should get home again. We just got back home when it really hit.

‘‘It’s hard to describe, but it was like the wind was circling the house. And the winds were so strong, the rain was horizontal.

‘‘Then everything went really calm, but it was followed by rain heavy enough it was leaving divots in the ground.’’

—Abbey Flanagan

and Zoe McMaugh